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World News

A round-up of this month's engineering news from around the world with a regional focus on North East Asia.

17 January

Mobile phone maker Nokia announced it would cut over 1,000 IT jobs. The company said that 300 jobs would be cut altogether, with most of the reductions in Finland, while 820 employees would be transferred to HCL Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services as part of an already-announced restructuring. The cuts are part of Nokia’s plans to cut 10,000 jobs globally.

18 January

A senior US Air Force official said Iran’s cyber capabilities would be a “force to be reckoned with” in the future. General William Shelton, who oversees cyber operations at the Air Force, said that Tehran had increased its efforts in cyber security after the 2010 Stuxnet computer virus attack on its nuclear facilities. The attack destroyed centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility and was reported to have been a US-Israeli project.

21 January

Founder of outlawed Megaupload website Kim Dotcom launched a new file-sharing site. He said the new ‘cyberlocker’ complied with the law as he and three colleagues awaited extradition from New Zealand to the United States. Prosecutors in the US argued that Dotcom had previously said he had no intention of starting a new Internet business until the extradition was resolved

22 January

A tropical storm off Australia’s north west coast brought nearly half the world’s iron ore trade to a halt, idling huge ports used by miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. Port Hedland, Dampier and Cape Lambert closed as the tropical storm gathered strength in the Indian Ocean, sending dozens of vessels in search of safe harbours.

24 January

Father-of-three Christopher Taylor, who lost his right hand in a jet ski accident, became the first person in the UK to be fitted with a bionic limb. He was fitted with a £47,000 Michelangelo hand, which is controlled by muscle signals from his brain and is the only prosthetic hand with a thumb that electronically moves into position.

24 January

Labour MP Chi Onwurah, a fellow of the IET, called on the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to work with professional bodies to help both individuals and companies make informed choices about working abroad following the hostage crisis at the In Amenas plant in Algeria, in which at least 39 foreign hostages were killed.

25 January

Ireland announced an historic agreement to capitalise on its abundant wind energy by selling it to Britain. Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte and UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey signed a memorandum of understanding during a conference hosted by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce which paved the way for some of the world’s largest wind turbines to be built across the Irish midlands.

29 January

The Pentagon announced plans to assign significantly more personnel in coming years to counter increasing threats against US government computer networks and conduct offensive operations against foreign foes. The plan would increase both military and civilian staffing at US Cyber Command and put it on the same level as the major combatant commands.

29 January

A cutting-edge hot-water drill designed by US engineers broke through 800m of ice above subglacial Lake Whillans, at the south eastern edge of the Antarctic. The team used a jet of pressurised hot water to melt a hole in the ice so scientists could collect data about subglacial microbial life, climate history and contemporary ice sheet dynamics.

1 February

Plans for a 100MW (DC) solar photovoltaic power plant to be built in the Atacama Desert of Chile, expected to be the largest in Latin America, were announced by SunEdison after they signed an agreement with the Chilean mining and steel group CAP. It is hoped the plant will produce 15 per cent of the mining group’s power needs.

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